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Iran warns Europe to 'stand with us over US sanctions'

Ayatollah Khamenei threatened to resume enriching uranium if European countries do not promise to buy Iranian oil and oppose new US sanctions

Image Credit: Reuters
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iran: Iran’s supreme leader has threatened to pull out of the nuclear deal and resume enriching uranium if European countries do not promise to buy Iranian oil and oppose new US sanctions.

Three days after Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, delivered an extensive list of demands to Iran for a new nuclear agreement, Ayatollah Khamenei laid out his own set to Europe.

"If the Europeans hesitate in responding to our demands, Iran is entitled to resume its nuclear activities," he declared. His demands are likely to be rejected and may further diminish hopes of saving the 2015 deal.

The ayatollah made five demands of the European countries. He called on them to "guarantee the total sales of Iran's oil", meaning that Europe must promise to make up for any oil sales which are cancelled because of US sanctions. Such a guarantee could potentially cost Europe billions of dollars.

The ayatollah said European banks "must guarantee business transactions with the Islamic Republic", even in the face of US sanctions. He called on the Europeans to issue a UN security council resolution condemning Donald Trump's decision to leave the nuclear deal and to oppose the new US list of demands. Finally, he said, the Europeans "must guarantee it will not raise the issue of the Islamic Republic's missiles and regional affairs".

The ayatollah may have staked out a deliberately maximalist position to give more room for Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, to appear conciliatory in his own meetings with European ministers.

Zarif and other reformist figures want to preserve the deal, but hardline politicians and elements of the Revolutionary Guard want it scrapped. The supreme leader has the final decision.

Pompeo said the US would inflict the "strongest sanctions" on Iran unless it agreed to 12 demands, including withdrawing from Syria and halting funding of Hizbollah and Hamas. Iran rejected Pompeo's list.

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said the world should stick with the 2015 deal. A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We have raised with the US the need to make allowance for continued economic ties between Europe and Iran."

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